Do I need a visa?

passport being stamped: visas

For Brits heading off on holiday, there are many countries for which all you need is a British passport and a sunny smile. Others, however, have tighter door codes than China White.

So check out our list of the UK's favourite holiday destinations to get the lowdown on visa and passport requirements. Find out if you need to arrange a visa in advance and how much time you'll need to have left on your passport - to avoid any red-faced moments at the airport...

Europe

For short visits, it's normally a case of no visa required. Turkey, Belarus and Russia are exceptions - see below. Passport validity, however, can vary considerably. For example, if you're travelling to Iceland, your passport must be valid for a minimum period of three months from the date you enter the country. Other countries, such as France, Spain and Italy, only require that your passport be valid for the duration of your stay.

Turkey
Unless you're a cruise ship passenger entering the country for a day trip and returning to the ship the same day, you'll need a visa to enter Turkey. The good news is that you can purchase a 90-day visitor's visa at the port or entry for £10. Alternatively, you can obtain your visa in advance from the Turkish Consulate in London.

Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Turkey and have at least three months' validity from the date you leave the country.

Belarus
You must obtain a tourist or transit visa from the Belarusian Embassy in the UK before you travel. Also, if you're staying in Belarus for longer than five days, you need to register with the local police office (OVIR) in the district in which you are staying: this will normally be organised by your hotel. Your passport must be valid for at least three months from the date of entry into Belarus.

Russia
Visas are required to enter Russia - and it's advisable to apply well in advance of your trip. For more details, contact the Russian Visa Application Centre.

If you're staying in Russia for more than seven days, you must register your stay with the local branch of the Federal Migration Service within seven working days of arrival: this will normally be organised by your hotel. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of three months after the expiry date of your visa.

 

North America

No visa is required for general tourism trips of up to 90 days under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). All those arriving in the US under the VWP by air or sea are required to provide details online at least 72 hours before travelling. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

ESTA is valid for a period of two years, or the validity period of your passport - whichever is shorter. For each subsequent visit within that period, details including departure city, address while in the US, airline and flight number with require updating - again 72 hours before departure. There is a $14 charge, and payment must be made by credit card.

Canada
No visa required for short stays - subject to the usual proofs of sufficient funds and a return tickets. Your passport must be valid for the length of your stay.

 

Oceania/Australasia

Australia Tourist visas are required for all travel to Australia. British nationals can obtain a free eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship. Alternatively, you can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) through your travel agent or airline. There is no application charge, but a service fee of AU$20 applies.

New Zealand
No visa required for stays of up to six months - providing you have sufficient funds and an onward ticket. You'll also need three months left on your passport after departure.

Middle East

UAE
British citizens will be given a 30-day visa on arrival in the UAE. This can be extended for a further 30 days in the Emirate of arrival by visiting the appropriate immigration office and paying an extension fee.

Africa

The Gambia
For stays of less than 28 days, no visa is required. You can purchase an extension for around £10 at the Tourist Police Stations in the Tourism Development Area. Your passport must be valid for at least three months following your departure from The Gambia.

Morocco & Tunisia
No visas are required for stays of less than three months. Your passport must be valid for at least six months following your departure from each country.

Egypt
A 15-day package holiday to Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba or Taba resorts doesn't require a visa. But if you're travelling for longer - or venturing outside these resorts - you'll need a visa. You can purchase one from the Egyptian Consulate in the UK in advance - or on arrival for stays of up to a month. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival.

South Africa
Visas aren't required for stays of less than 90 days. Make sure your passport has at least two blank pages and is valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit.

Kenya
Visas are required for all visitors. You can purchase them at the airport on arrival - but it's advisable to buy one in advance from the Kenya High Commission in London. A single entry visa costs £30. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry.

Indian Subcontinent

India
You must obtain a visa before travelling to India. Contact VSF Global for details. Make sure your passport has at least two blank pages and is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application.

Sri Lanka
You must obtain a visa before travelling to Sri Lanka. You can purchase short stay visas through an online application process, the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from date of entry.

Nepal
Visas must be purchased in advance - with stepped fees of £20 for 15 days, £35 for 30 days and £75 for 90 days - from the Nepalese Embassy in London. You can also purchase visas on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at certain land borders: bring two passport-sized photographs. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

Asia

Thailand
No visas are required for stays of up to 30 days. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from date of arrival. And make sure your passport is in good condition: entrance may be refused if it looks tatty or has any pages missing.

Malaysia
No visas are required for stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from your date of arrival.

Singapore
No visas are required for stays of up to 30 days. Until recently, women who were more than six months pregnant were required to obtain permission before travelling - but the final decision on length of stay permitted now rests with the immigration officer on arrival. Prior entry clearance is still required if you intend to give birth in Singapore. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from your date of arrival.

Indonesia
Visas are required for all UK nationals: you can buy a 30-day visa upon arrival for US$25. This can be extended once for a maximum of 30 days by applying to immigration offices within Indonesia. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of departure from Indonesia.

Vietnam
A tourist visa is required. Due to the number of bogus companies in operation, it's advisable to purchase one in advance from the Vietnamese Embassy in London. Your passport must be valid for at least one month after the date that your visa expires.

China/Hong Kong/Macao
You'll need a visa for China, but not Hong Kong or Macao - where you can stay for up to six months and three months respectively without a visa. For China, visas must be obtained in advance from the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your visa application.

Japan
No visas are required for stays of up to three months - provided your passport is valid for the duration of your stay and you can produce an onward/return ticket.

South America

Mexico
No visas are required - but you will have to fill out a tourist card, which can be obtained by filling out an immigration form available at border crossings or on your inbound flight. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of entry into Mexico.

Brazil
No visas are required - but you may be required to show that you have sufficient funds to finance your stay, plus an onward/return ticket. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from date of entry into Brazil.

Peru
No visas are required for UK tourists for stays up to 183 days. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

Tropical islands

Cuba
UK nationals should obtain a tourist visa ahead of travel to Cuba. Contact the Cuban Embassy in London for more details. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from date of entry into Cuba.

The Caribbean
If you're visiting the Dominican Republic, you'll need to buy a tourist card on arrival for US$10. Contact the Dominican Embassy for more information. No visa is required for short-stay visits to Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica and many other island groups. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for specific passport requirements.

Maldives
You can obtain a tourist visa for up to 30 days on arrival in Maldives, provided you hold a valid return/onward ticket and sufficient funds to cover your stay. Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.

Mauritius
A visa, normally valid for three months, will be issued on arrival - provided you can hold a return/onward ticket. Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.

Seychelles
No visas are required for UK nationals - provided you have proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay and an onward/return ticket. Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.

Further information

This information is correct at the time of publication and for British passport-holders only. For the latest country-by-country advice, see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website

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